« A flight from Israel’s national carrier, El Al, landed at the Madrid Airport on Tuesday after Spanish airline Iberia and several other international companies have either cancelled or reduced flights to Tel Aviv, following the recent surprise attack by Hamas.
Israeli citizens trying to return home expressed their challenges amid the flight disruptions.
« We have come on vacation, and we are going to try to return to Israel. But the Virgin company did not take us to Israel, so we waited for El Al, which is Israel’s national company, to return us to Israel. Our only wish is just to go to Israel and to fight with our friends and fight with our family and protect our country, » said a couple from Israel.
Another traveller shared the difficulties they faced, stating that numerous flights were cancelled, including their Iberia flight. They highlighted the long waiting time and uncertainty travellers faced in the wake of flight cancellations.
« El Al was going to give me a waiting list to be able to travel if I was lucky. And I was waiting from 2:00 am until 5:30 am and I was lucky because God helped me, » the passenger from Israel explained.
In response to the full-scale attack on Israel, the Israel Airports Authority closed airports in the southern and central regions of the country to private and tourism flights.
However, Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv remained open, with security and safety measures in place. Despite this, many foreign airlines cancelled their scheduled flights to Israel in light of the ongoing situation and security concerns.
The situation comes in the wake of a surprise attack by Hamas on Israel on Saturday, October 7, during which thousands of rockets were fired into Israeli territory as part of what Hamas referred to as ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood.’
Israel responded with airstrikes on the Gaza Strip and issued a formal declaration of war on Hamas, warning residents in Gaza to leave their homes.
Hamas said the operation was due to the long-running Israeli blockade, raids on West Bank cities and other attacks, while Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed ‘mighty vengeance’ on the group.
At the time of publication, over 1,600 have been reported dead across both sides in the most deadly escalation of the ongoing conflict in decades. »